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Yoga for Colds & Flu

It seems everywhere I go people are sneezing, coughing and blowing their nose. Along with the changes in temperatures, it tends to be the cold/flu season.

When you feel a cold trying to assert itself, there are some helpful asanas that can assist with the symptoms of the cold/flu and help to boost the immune system.

Yoga asanas that are gentle and allow for lung expansion and relief from congestion are highly recommended. The Yoga Journal advises that you use a headband when practicing asanas during a cold to help reduce any discomfort associated with blocked sinuses, particularly when doing inversion postures.

Practicing asanas that open the chest including Cobra, Fish and Boat poses are beneficial to help activate the thymus gland, which boosts the immune system and reduces down time. It also increases the body’s natural defense mechanism and its ability to fight off nasty viruses.

Inversion postures assist with the circulation of the lymphatic system, as well as, boosting the immune system. Try Legs up the Wall, Shoulder Stand and Headstand postures. Yoga twists are also highly beneficial for the flow of the lymphatic system. Try the Seated Twist and Prayer Twist.

Other suggested postures for preventing and reducing symptoms of the cold and flu include:

Child Pose with support – to help open up the back and assist with breathing.
Mountain Pose – helps to bring us to stillness.
Sun Salutation – invigorates and enlivens the whole body while circulating the lymphatic system.
Downward Facing Dog & Forward Bends – to relieve congestion.
Corpse Pose – for relaxation of the whole body.

Do all the postures carefully and gently, your body is already weak. The above will help to increase your immunity and assist with reducing the recovery time of your cold/flu. You may feel unable to do any postures at this time. Listen to your body and only do what you are capable of easily and without creating more tension or stress on the body.

If nothing else, Kapalabhati is a useful Pranayama which consists of breathing in quick succession. This is helpful if you have a lot of mucus in your body - as it is useful to clear blockages in the chest and open the airways up allowing flow and balance to return.

As well as slow gentle yoga asanas, it is also recommended to make changes in your diet. Since mucus is increased at this time, reducing mucus forming foods is advisable. Try to cut out or reduce the following foods:

Orange Juice (Grapefruit is full of vitamin C and has a cleansing effect where orange juice is said to create mucus in the body)

Try to increase foods that are warming and packed with vitamins and antioxidants such as:

Chicken soup or vegetable broth – thins mucus.
Hot & spicy foods – antiseptic and immune boosting.
Garlic – high in sulfur to stimulate the immune system.
Ginger – assists in the absorption of nutrients and is beneficial to clearing the sinuses.
Fish – high in omega 3 fatty acids, which help to fight bacteria.
Vegetables – high in phytonutrients.
Spinach – high in antioxidants needed to stimulate the immune system.
Sweet potatoes – high in beta-carotene, which boosts T-cells.

Hope this helps!

We all need good nutrition to assist with keeping us healthy. I recommend Patrick Holford's book The Optimum Nutrition Bible. It is full of excellent advice, and information.

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